We know that in our society there is huge cultural pressure on young people and in particular girls to be skinny, waif like and attain impossible barbie like body shapes. The gendered link between media pressure and eating disorders is inescapable. But frustratingly just as women from ethnic minorities are absent from everyday media appearances, the fact that they too are also subjected to the same cultural pressures and resultant illnesses, is also absent.
It's easy to point the finger at GPs for not picking up on the signs but are they really to blame? Currently, doctors have no training on eating disorders as part of their seven-year degree. They have approximately 10 minutes - if that - with each patient and hardly sufficient to investigate a patient presenting the symptoms.
Students are known for their bad eating habits; baked beans have become a beacon for the university experience. It's not surprising really - we don't have nine to five schedules, or lunch breaks, or regular wages... We only have ourselves to decide that cereal for the third time in a day is a bad decision, instead of a detox. Which makes it dangerously easy for people to fall through the gaps. In the student culture of make do and make pasta, again, eating disorders can be hard to spot.
In 2012, I decided that due to a number of significant events going on in my life it was time to try and continue treatment again. Despite my initial referral taking place in December 2012, I didn't see anyone till October 2013. When I did, I was told by the NHS mental health trust that I wasn't ill enough to meet their very strict criteria.
The dangers of the internet may be largely understood but due to the lack of evidence, it's a questionable claim to suggest that social media sites are the so called 'cause?' Instead of trying to point the finger it's better to focus our attention on understanding why young sufferers are developing eating disorders in the first place.
Despite having an eating disorder I'd never heard of bulimia, let alone knew it was a mental illness. Most days I would run out of lessons or avoid lessons completely to escape the torment of bullies. I'd hide in the boys toilets and lock myself in a cubicle as it was the only place where I couldn't be found.
If having experienced trauma or acute vulnerability ourselves, are we prepared to accept and share that part of ourselves in the work that we do with our patients? It is my view that in order to offer people the best possible chance of recovery we have to offer them something more intimate than clinical expertise.
for me, the readily available information just helped catalyse my anorexic behaviours as I strived to consume fewer and fewer calories every day. I spent hours walking round the supermarket every morning examining food labels, working out the lowest- calorie versions of the food items I was allowed to eat.
We need to open the debate up further and to talk more openly. We already understand how low body confidence can affect 15 year old girls. But what happens when those 15 year old girls reach 25, 35, and 45? How does their low body confidence translate into social confidence? How does it affect their performance in the workplace? How does it affect their families? The government is already doing a lot to support women, but we also need to ensure that we can nurture and support the aspirations of women and girls.